Like a thousand-degree knife through a block warm butter, that name cuts through my veil of red. The two syllables resonate with my entire being and evaporate all my hatred and despair. It feels as I’m locked in an impossibly delicate embrace, and I’m too afraid to move another millimetre lest I lose that fleeting touch.
It’s a name from another lifetime.
A name only one woman would use…
“For the love of God, Tyler, snap out of it!”
“Huh, Lili!? Hachirou? What are you- Oh my god…”
Dear God, please grant me strength.
If things continue as they are… I-I don’t think I can save them all…
“What… is this?”
As I charge towards his waiting form, I sense something is horribly wrong. While Tascus himself hasn’t physically changed, his magical energy is rising quickly. Naturally, I wonder where all his power is coming from, but then I realise… he’s contorting the very mana stream running beneath the land. He’s drawing power directly from the World Stream, but unlike the pure energy that forms its ethereal waters, it’s a chaotic concoction with the same horrid sensation as my activated Pact. The injection of power continues to intensify, and within moments, two large rings of dark mana materialise behind him, hovering close to his back with one positioned inside the other. The mana is so thick that the rings are visible to the naked eye, resembling a pair of obsidian halos that make a mockery of the Path of Eden’s symbol. While it is certainly an ominous spectacle, I’m far more perturbed by the fact that his already impressive pool of mana… has increased threefold.
No, I couldn’t have heard that right. There is no way he would really want such a thing.
No matter how insane, how fanatical or how ignorant he may be, he can’t have described such a hellish state as “perfect”. It would be one thing to desire power, but judging by the elation in Tascus’ voice, he had meant it in every sense of the word. All I can do is stare at him in soundless bafflement as he notices my disbelief.
Thank god I made it in time. I’m so glad Minna had the sense to leave a note behind. To be honest, I first thought of leaving Sen and company to their devices so I could bolster the village’s defences, but there were just one too many suspicious details for me to ignore.
Morning has arrived and the rain is still pouring outside. It began as a light drizzle but has only gained in strength since. To my annoyance, there is a leak somewhere in this house, and I’ve been listening to it for the entirety of my time sitting here. That’s right, we still haven’t received a response, and I’m growing more anxious by the hour. I can sense the closest mana stream shifting further away. If the signal isn’t received soon, we’ll have to venture into the hills to find another line.
Hm? It seems Lili is stirring from her slumber. It seems the rain didn’t bother her at all.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“I don’t want to believe it either, Enbos, but by the looks of this mess…”
“Those goddamn idiots!”